Water Rights 101: Sept. 26 presentation covers the basics

October 1, 2018

An overview of water rights in California by a leading water expert was well received by a full-house audience during Nevada Irrigation District (NID) Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 26.

The 90-minute presentation “Water Rights and Area and County of Origin Issues” was given by Victoria Whitney, former deputy director of the Division of Water Quality and deputy director for water rights at the State Water Resources Control Board. NID Director Nick Wilcox noted Whitney is a former colleague who, with her 23 years’ experience, “is like Forrest Gump. She’s been everywhere and knows everyone.”

In her presentation, Whitney described California’s dual water rights system that recognizes riparian and appropriative rights. Riparian rights are based on ownership of land bordering a waterway, while appropriative rights – which originated during the Gold Rush – exist without regard to the relationship between land and water.

Currently, the NID has 14 water rights permits and 58 licenses to operate its water delivery system.

Whitney discussed the benefits of having older water rights, and noted a right depends upon continued use, and the state can revoke it for non-use.

She said water in California is becoming less available, due to population, recurring drought and climate change: “Each district needs to look at options,” including conservation, recycling and water storage.

Watch Whitney’s entire presentation here at the 00:37 mark.